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Open Mic Spotlight: Everett Toews


Everett ToewsThis post is part of the OpenStack Open Mic series to spotlight the people who have helped make OpenStack successful as we celebrate the third birthday of the project. Each day in July, a new contributor will step up to the mic and answer five questions about OpenStack, cloud, careers and what they do for fun.  

Everett Toews is a Developer Advocate at Rackspace making OpenStack and the Rackspace Cloud easy to use for developers and operators. Sometimes developer, sometimes advocate, and sometimes operator. He’s a committer on jclouds and co-author of the OpenStack Operations Guide. In the past he’s built web applications, taught workshops, given presentations around the world, and deployed OpenStack in production. Follow him on Twitter @everett_toews.

1. What are the essentials for someone just getting started with OpenStack? Sites? Books? Conferences? People?

DevStack. I’m a big fan of DevStack at devstack.org. If you’re an application developer, it’s great for getting to know the OpenStack API. If you’re an operator, it’s great for learning how to deploy OpenStack and how all of the different projects fit together. If you’re an OpenStack developer, it’s great for contributing a feature or fixing a bug.

You can run it in a virtual machine on your laptop. You can run it in a server in the cloud. You can run it with a goat or in a boat. I’ve found it so useful I’ve blogged about it a number of times at blog.phymata.com.

2. What other OpenStack developers deserve a shout out for the work they’re doing in the community? Who are our unsung heroes? Your own?

Application developers. The developers who are building solutions on top of OpenStack. The ones who come to our mailing lists, IRC channels, and ask.openstack.org looking for answers on how to use OpenStack. IMHO, these people are our true users and an integral part of the community. They’re the ones who have to make all of OpenStack’s projects work together as a cohesive whole in their application architectures. They’re the ones who suffer the consequences (good or bad) of all of the design decisions made in the creation of OpenStack.

If we do our job right, application developers will demand to work on OpenStack clouds because they’re easy to use, reliable, and performant.

3. What’s the most critical feature you think cloud software needs to be widely adopted over the next year?

Tools. We need the existing and yet-to-be cloud focused tools to work well with OpenStack. For example: software development kits in many programming languages, graphical user interfaces, software configuration management tools, command line interfaces, etc. That means we as a community need to reach out to the developers of these tools, show them why OpenStack is important, and how to use it.

It would be amazing to see all of the contributing companies devoting developers to the open source tools ecosystem around OpenStack. These are the tools that will make application developers ecstatic and drive OpenStack adoption.

4. What other open source projects do you think work well with OpenStack, and why?

Software development kits (SDKs). Any of the ones listed at wiki.openstack.org/wiki/SDKs. When application developers talk to OpenStack they need to talk to its HTTP API. But the majority of application developers are not going to want to do that. They want to talk to OpenStack in the programming language of their choice. That means using an SDK.

But SDKs are just the start. Once you have those in place you can build higher-level tools on top of them. For instance, the Ruby fog SDK powers the cloud provisioning modules in Puppet and Chef.

5. What do you do when you’re not obsessing over and working with OpenStack?

I’m from Canada so I bleed hockey. I prefer to play it rather than watch it so sometimes that’s quite literal. On a related topic, I have a taste for strong beer or a strong taste for beer. When I’m not on the ice, I like to stay under water while scuba diving.

Also, comics. I like to obsess over my collection and ferret out back issues. I just finished Alan Moore’s run on The Swamp Thing. “We thought that the swamp thing was Alec Holland, somehow transformed in to a plant. It wasn’t. It was a plant that thought it was Alec Holland.” Great stuff.

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